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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Rubin Carter was wrongfully imprisoned before I was even born, and I'm sure I am one of many who first learned of his shocking case through the telling words of Bob Dylan's song "Hurricane." Dylan was one of many who believed in Carter's innocence and helped raise awareness of the gross injustice he suffered at the hands of the justice system in New Jersey. I do not know all of the facts in the actual case, but I am aware of the fact that this film does not follow the history of events exactly - it's no secret, as a disclaimer of such appears at the beginning of the movie. This is not a documentary; it's a moving tale of prejudice, corruption, and hatred ultimately defeated by love, truth, and honor; as such, it captures the heart and spirit of Carter's tragic story in the most powerful of ways.
You could call what happened to Rubin Carter a travesty of justice, yet even this term barely begins to explain Carter's plight. He was tried and convicted of the murder of three individuals in a New Jersey bar in 1967 for two reasons: he was black and he was successful. He and a fan were heading home in a white car when they were pulled over, hauled over to a murder scene they knew nothing about and then to the hospital to see if anyone could identify them as the murderers - which no one did. This did not stop the lead detective from arresting and trying them for murder - by suppressing evidence and forging documents, not to mention engineering the false testimony of quite impeachable witnesses, the police and prosecutors got their conviction. Rubin Carter's boxing career was over, and this man - who could have been the middle-weight champion of the world - found himself looking at three life sentences for a crime he did not commit.
Much of this film examines Carter's response to the crushing weight of prison and the repeated denials of his appeals over two decades (somewhat strangely, it mentions but does not dramatize the second trial he managed to get - and lose). Along the way, we flash back to the important events of Carter's childhood and early adulthood - including some of his overpowering victories in the ring. Another story converges with Carter's as the movie progresses, though. A young man from Brooklyn, who has been taken under the wing of three working partners in Toronto - who teach him to read and help him prepare for the college education he longs to have - buys Carter's autobiography at a used book sale - it's the first book he has ever bought. Reading Carter's story, young Lesra Martin feels a close connection to the man and decides to write him a letter. A friendship emerges between Carter and Martin, and eventually Martin's Toronto friends and teachers all risk their careers if not their very lives to help Carter win his release from prison. Even though you know how the story turns out, the final scenes are wondrous moments of cinematic art full of raw emotional power.
This movie does run a little long, coming in at just under two and a half hours, but you'll be so absorbed by the story you won't even realize how much time passes. Denzel Washington does a remarkable job as Ruben Carter, and the supporting cast is stellar as well. Hurricane affects you across the whole range of emotions: hatred for the crooked cops and prosecutors, disgust with those who not only feel racism but use it as a weapon to subvert justice and ruin a man, growing admiration for Carter as he deals with year upon year of incarceration, deep respect for those who risk their own livelihoods in order to open the eyes of Lady Justice, and the moving joy of hope fulfilled and the eventual triumph of good over evil. The film may not be historically accurate in all its details, but Hurricane is about as real as it gets. This is just an extraordinary motion picture.
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on 8 August 2006
This film is a true story. It is important for you to know that because some of the facts and reactions seem excessive, and yet... It all starts with a bunch of rowdy black kids who run across an older white man, a local personality who starts playing with these boys of ten or eleven and these boys decide to fight against it, probably without knowing what they were fighting against, except that it was not correct to let an older white man touch you if you were a little black boy. Local police and justice officials will go along a road that leads the same boy who is arrested for « molesting » the older man to a triple death sentence for a triple murder that he never committed and that will never be investigated properly. The film is absolutely outstanding because it sets the emphasis on this black man, an ex-world champion in boxing, transcending this fate and getting so high in his meditation that he is truly free in prison and truly divine in his mind. This Hurricane thus set as an example and model to anyone whose freedom is endangered, we can move to the 15 year old black boy from Brooklyn who buys and reads Rubin Carter's book in a booksale for 25 cents. His own life is a series of accidental cicumstances that lead him from deprevation among alcoholics to some achievement in a « host family » in Canada. This black boy, Lesra, identifies with Rubin and gets involved in his case. His Canadian guardians get along with this involvement and they will eventually bring the truth out and convince a federal court that the man is innocent and has to be released from prison immediately. What is important here is how these people react and organize their search and how it succeeds thanks to some nearly immaterial circumstances that go their way and not the simple automatic and habitual way. It is such cases that justify people in thinking there is hope in our societies where the poor cannot have any justice at all because they cannot afford good lawyers from the very start, and later on it is too late : the initial damage can rarely be redeemed, and yet some cases are there to prove it could, even if it does not most of the time. This is one of the films that should be studied in details in all high schools all over the world.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne
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on 2 October 2000
There is no way you can deny Denzel Washington is a reputed actor, but to my surprise he has surpassed all expectations with his portrayal of legend fighter Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter. His performance is gripping, and leaves those watching entranced by this story of opression and surfering during the sixties and seventies all the way upto the present day. It is a performance brimming with brilliant emotional character, the way Washington puts emphasis upon his methodical acting is inch perfect. There are no flaws from Washington throughout the entire motion picture. Supporting roles from Rod Steiger, John Hannnah and Deborah Unger are also creditable.The movie itself is extremly charming, examining all depths of the Hurricane, leaving no stone unturned with heavy focus on personal emotion all the way from superb boxing sequences to Carters psychodelic emprisonment in the 'hole'. This DVD is a credit to the format. The boxing sequences, mentioned above, are truly given a true ambiance through the Dolby sound, the extra features present on the DVD are also worth mentioning. The featurette gives in depth information on the making of the picture. The deleted scenes, with instruction by the director, are a true delight. In conclusion, this movie is fantastic. The story is brilliantly scened by Norman Jewison, reminding us of the days of Rollerball. However Denzel Washington's perfomance remains as the stand out or pinacle of this movie. True class. A well earned Golden Globe award for this great man, and in my view only narrowly missing out on an Academy Award to that man, what's his name agian ? Oh yes, Kevin Spacey.
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on 16 December 2007
This film will change your life. If you ever feel low and that life has dealt you some cruel blows, you have to watch this. Nothing you have been through can compare to this and who can have the strength to deal that all Hurricane had on his plate? An innocent man with a shining future in boxing, he was to spend most of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit, all because of the intense hatred of one man. And if you ever feel that you are too insignificant to make a difference, see how one young boy changed what no one else could, with his love, his fire and his determination. You will cry, you will cheer, and you will be glad you have the life you do.
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on 21 March 2001
I have seen quite a few Denzel Washington films before but this performance has to be his best. All throughout the film he forces you to believe that he is Rubin Carter. This film is definite 5 stars and is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. If you havent seen it I would buy it, rent it or borrow it just watch it! There is only one thing about this film which I dont like. How in the world did Denzel Washington not get an Oscar for his performane. I started to watch American Beauty but gave up haklf way through it was terrible. The Hurricane should have cleaned up at the Oscars.
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on 8 February 2006
A trully amazing film - If there were an option for 10 stars it would get it.
Its a MUST WATCH regardless of your tastes.
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on 2 May 2001
Icannot describe in words the greatness of this film, but I will try! Denzel Washington has a certain power inside him that shows perfectly the oppression and racism that plagued Ruben Carter's career. Washington does not play the part, he lives and breathes it. Amust see for anyody
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on 30 May 2016
Hurricane is a fantastic movie portrayed masterfully by Denzel Washington. He truly gets you with his emotions and the spirit. Watched the blu ray and all I can say is WOW. It looks fantastic. The image quality is just superb. Its not a new movie but they done an amazing job into the blu ray. I am proud to own it. Just get it.
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on 2 January 2004
This film is simply incredible. So much emotion is in this film it is unbelievable. Im 17 and this is the only film that has ever made me fill up and be emotionally satisfied when justice was given. Serving 20 years for a crime he did not committ and then to stand outside, to experience the simple things in life that we all take for granted. I simply could feel his emotions at. Such a compelling and brilliant film. My favourite of all iv ever seen and most probably all i wil ever see.
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'The Hurricane', as with many biopics, was criticised for its "inaccuracies" in the usual way the media has reviewed such a film since 'JFK'. Pity, as it should be obvious that a film still has to be a film- regardless of its source- it would have to compress and fictionalise to an extent- or it would be a documentary (which can be as fictional as fiction with the selective memory of selected "witnesses"). Plus, the major reason for compression of characters & events are usually to make the film watchable- so "THe Canadians" are reduced to three people here- when there were more. But would we need the correct number of Canadians on-screen to get across the idea of their relationship to Lezra & Carter? Its like the person who complained that 'Nixon' reduced 80-something calls to a few; does this alter the story in any way? Auto/Biography and History all impose linearity and an order that fictionalises "reality" or "factuality"- so the basic message of this film remains the same: Ruben Carter was wrongly incacerated and a group of "Canadians" helped aid his release 20 or so years after he was imprisoned for murder.
Washington should have one an Oscar for this- though the same can be said for his performances in 'Cry Freedom' & 'Malcolm X'. As with 'Ali', it does tend to paint the zeitgeist in obvious 'Forrest Gump'-by numbers: soul-songs, footage of civil rights demos, the pictures of Rosa Parks? This feels a little clumsy and forced- and gets away from the fact that our hero was away from all of this (the somewhat messy structure doesn't help either- if you're going to cut back & forth time- there must be good reason!). The boxing element seems a little underplayed- you wonder if it was worth Washington training for a year (this is not something that you can level at the best boxing film, 'Raging Bull').
'The Hurricane' is a fairly standard melodrama, Jewison avoids the grey area (such as the white paedophile whom the 11-year old Carter stabs)- this is a story about the difference between guilty & innocent. This film is quite touching though- in the ideas of attaining enlightenment and transcendence through education and fraternity. It would be worth seeing just for Washington's performance alone- though Vicellous Reon Shannon, Dan Hedaya and Deborah Kara-Unger (suffering a brief flashback to her role in 'Crash' at one point) all acquit themselves well.
'The Hurricane' does feel a little old-fashioned at times- which is part of its problem and part of its charm. I don't think it is up-there with the best biopics of recent years- 'Ed Wood', 'Nixon', 'Patton', 'Raging Bull', 'Reds' etc- but it is as good as 'Ali'- though unlike Michael Mann's film it gives you a protaganist you can empathise with. Plus it made me want to listen to Dylan's song and read Carter's book (which appears to be out of print). The extras are fairly standard- the conventional 8-minute studio feature that tells you very little. Pity, as the fall from grace of many a great African-American boxer seems all too frequent- from Liston to Tyson. And part of this is due to the racist enviroment that they have been forced to endure- the very thing that wrongly convicted Carter- who is a true "American hero".
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